Introduction to Healing Sexually Betrayed Men and Boys

By Richard Gartner, Ph.D.
(Routledge, 2018)

Copyrighted material, all rights reserved

Since the turn of this century, attitudes toward male sexual victimization and trauma have shifted. At one time, many in both public and professional arenas did not even believe the problem existed except in rare, isolated cases. Then came revelations in 2002 that sexually abusing Roman Catholic clergy were systematically protected by their superiors from facing their accusers and answering for their crimes. And in 2011, Coach Jerry Sandusky at Penn State University was charged and convicted of assaulting numerous young boys from the Second Mile, an agency he founded to help disadvantaged youth. Male sexual victimization had entered the public discourse.

During this period, increasing numbers of cases gained notoriety:

  • Male and female teachers having sex with underage male students.
  • Coaches in a wide range of sports molesting or assaulting young athletes, or manipulating them into sexual relationships.
  • U.S. Congressmen taking advantage of power relationships with young male pages.
  • Schools and universities ignoring or actively hiding sexual exploitation of students or other underage boys. While the Penn State University scandal was the most notorious of these, there were a number of other well-publicized cases, such as those involving the elite Horace Mann School in New York City (Kamil & Elder, 2015) and the American Boychoir School in New Jersey (Schemo, 2002).
  • Multiple reports about incidents of sexual abuse and assault of boys in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities (e.g., Otterman & Rivera, 2012).
  • Credible allegations by at least 450 individuals emerging, a year after his death, about beloved English entertainer Sir Jimmy Savile. These individuals contended that he sexually abused them as prepubescent boys and girls or as adults (BBC News, 2012).

At the same time, a growing number of male celebrities stepped forward to reveal histories of sexual abuse. These included:

  • Musicians like Carlos Santana, Jonathan Davis of Korn, Axl Rose of Guns and Roses, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, and Mike Patton of Faith No More.
  • Athletes like NFL player Laveranues Coles, NBA player Keyon Dooling, NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, MLB player R.A. Dickey, former Stanley Cup champion Theoren Fleury, 3-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, and Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis.
  • Performers, actors, and comedians like Gabriel Byrne, Derek Luke, Tom Arnold, Billy Connolly, and Barry Crimmins.
  • Actor/Directors like Antwone Fisher and Tyler Perry.
  • Newscasters like CNN anchor Don Lemon and NBC anchor Thomas Roberts.
  • Journalists like Charles Blow of the New York Times.
  • Politicians like former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Every time a case was spotlighted or a respected celebrity disclosed boyhood sexual abuse, other men who had suffered in silence about boyhood abuse for years or decades felt empowered to come forward. Some sought legal redress, but many wanted to get psychological or pastoral help for their trauma.

In this book and its companion volume, Understanding the Sexual Betrayal of Boys and Men: The Trauma of Sexual Abuse, I have invited a group of experts to write about specific areas involving the sexual abuse of boys and men. Each contributes a chapter in an area of expertise, and in toto the books constitute a nearly-twenty-years-later follow-up of my book Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men (Gartner, 1999). In that book, I made the case for considering male sexual victimization a serious problem with specific meanings, antecedents, consequences, and treatment goals. I also described how interpersonally-oriented psychodynamic or psychoanalytic treatment helps traumatized men.

This volume focuses particularly on treatment issues, while its companion volume focuses more on underlying considerations. This book begins with descriptions of treatment from various perspectives (Gartner, Gensler, Barnard, Skidmore and Roy), then moves to specific types of treatment (Fradkin and Struve, Goodwin, Hyman and Gold, Courtois and Weiss, Linden). Several chapters then consider the role of women in etiology and treatment (Rauch, Adams, MacIntosh). The book ends with three chapters that concentrating on predators, whether or not they themselves were sexually abused (Clemente and Hakes, Greif, MacDonell and Bolton).

Together, the two books constitute a rich and thorough analysis of a complex field that remains “common, underreported, underrecognized, and undertreated” (Holmes & Slap, 1998, p. 1860).